It’s Monday, you’ve got the day off, your roommate won’t be back until two days from now, and so it’s just you, the empty house and serenity. Throw in Netflix and Wi-Fi for good measure, and it’s a dream come true right? Right!!!
While being alone might be the best thing that could happen to you sometimes, it could be a pretty depressing and sad experience for your Maltese. Trust me; you don’t want to know what goes on in your Maltese’s head while you are away.
So can Malteses be left alone? And how long can they be left alone?
Yes. Malteses usually do fine left alone if you take the proper precautions. For example, your Maltese should have access to water, food as well as their favorite toys throughout the day when you’re not home. A Maltese puppy of 6 months and below can be left alone for not more than two hours while an adult Maltese can be left alone for not more than eight.
Known for its constant hunger for human company, Malteses are very dependent on and attached to their owner. All these factors make it a breed susceptible to separation anxiety.
Tips on Leaving Your Maltese at Home Alone
There also are some recommended tips on leaving your dog at home so that they can be safe, secure and healthy when you return.
- Take your Maltese for a walk before you leave: If your dog gets a little restless when you’re about to leave or begins to throw a tantrum, this might be what you need. Take it out for a good 10 to 30 minutes walk before you leave that is sure to keep it too tired to protest. Plus, it will be healthy, and so it’s a win-win situation; you get to leave peacefully, and your Maltese gets the exercise it needs.
- Give your Maltese rawhide treats: Rawhides are a type of treats that are byproducts of cow or horsehides. Some reputable dog food companies go to great lengths to convert these hides into chewable dog treats. These treats are not only very appealing, but they also help clean your Maltese’s teeth. Hence, another win-win situation – your pup happy and full, and its teeth clean.
- Put your Maltese in a playpen: To ensure its safety, put your Maltese in its playpen before you leave. You could play with them for a few minutes before you dash out, but remember to check the playpen for anything that could be harmful and move anything that could suffocate them.
- Remove all hurtful or harmful things that your pup can ingest: It’s in the nature of these little ones to pick up things and chew on them. So you may need to clear up anything that your Maltese can swallow and check around their playpen for any harmful objects before you leave them alone.
- If you can afford it, get a snack dispenser: If it’s not too expensive for you, it’s advisable to get your dog an automated snack dispenser so that that way, it would neither be starved nor overfed.
- Keep water in a bowl for your Maltese, enough to drink from, but not fall into it: They are known for knocking over water bowls and making a huge mess. You should ensure you use a container that has a rubber bottom so that it can’t be easily pushed around and toppled over. Another brilliant plan would be to provide a water dispenser for puppies who tend to knock over their bowls.
- Make arrangements for them to empty their bowels: If you’ll be gone for a long time, maybe work or something, it’s advisable to spread some old newspapers or waste bags over the floor to hold your little one’s poop. This is because within the time you’re away, you can expect that your fur baby would need to use the bathroom.
What Is Separation Anxiety?
According to Dr. Karen Overall, separation anxiety is a condition in which animals exhibit symptoms of anxiety or excessive distress when they are left alone. She made this comment in her book titled Clinical Behavioural Medicine for Small Animals.
Symptoms may include destructive behavior, house soiling, excessive vocalization, and refusal to eat. The dog may not tolerate crating and pant restlessly, which may become violent and cause injuries.
Note: do well to check for any of these behaviors in your Maltese.
Dogs Prone to Separation Anxiety
All dogs are prone to separation anxiety, but some breeds have it worse than others.
Breeds like the Labrador Retriever, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Border Collie, Bichon Frise, Visla, German Shorthaired Pointer, Toy Poodle, Australian Shepherd, and Jack Russell Terrier – to name a few – can become sick from a lack of attention.
Also, separation anxiety is a psychological reaction developed by dogs who have been through negative experiences like separation from loved ones, poor breeding conditions (typical of puppy mills), change of owners, or being abandoned by its previous owner.
These situations may cause a shift in the dog’s psychology, and then being left alone could trigger feelings of abandonment and loss.
Separation Anxiety in the Maltese Dog
There’s a quite simple yet complex reason why your little one is a bit or highly destructive when you leave it home alone. Although they love you dearly and of course naturally miss you, Malteses are susceptible to separation anxiety.
This causes them to be destructive, urinate, defecate and throw a tantrum when left alone.
Some independent researches show that despite the Maltese’s dependency, it’s one of the few breeds that are less susceptible to separation anxiety.
They can suffer from it, but it doesn’t become severe. A Maltese puppy of 6 months and below can be left alone for not more than two hours while a Maltese adult dog can be left alone for not more than eight.
How to Care for Malteses With Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety like I pointed out earlier is a thing of the mind; that is to say, the dog’s mind was conditioned to react like that by previous experience.
The good news is, with a lot of effort and persistence, that conditioning can be altered and permanently changed.
This can be achieved through desensitization and counterconditioning, and here’s how:
- Change your departure time and cues: Dress up, pick up your keys, and grab a good book to read for thirty minutes. The point here is to switch up your departure routine. Just pick up the keys and sit; if you usually pick them up and go. Eat after dressing up; if you often ate before dressing up – switch up your routines!
- Walk your dog before you leave: It’s an excellent way to get him or her exhausted and not strong enough to engage in any destructive behavior. Here are some of the exercise tips to get your Maltese tired.
- Practice graduated separation or departure: By far, the most effective method. It involves creating scenarios of separation between you and your dog until it becomes used to the fact that no matter how long you are gone for, you will be back. You can start by teaching and performing out-of-sight indoor stays by the kitchen or bedroom while you go to the other part of the room or kitchen. This can only work if you have trained your dog to sit and stand at command. The rule of thumb here is for your absences to be shorter than it takes for your dog to get upset. The better your dog becomes at the game without getting upset, the higher the time of separation or departure. Remember during your sessions or departure games with your dog to wait a few minutes between absences. After each short separation, it’s essential to make sure that your dog is completely relaxed before you leave again. Leaving shortly after you just returned will make your new departure more felt. This will make your dog less patient with your game and could mean more harm than good for your objective. Acting in a natural and calm way when you need to go out will gradually influence your dog to see it as normal behavior.
Note that this counterconditioning process requires patience and consistency and may take many weeks to accomplish, so the key thing here is patience.
Separation anxiety in dogs is usually mixed up with a lot of other conditions or behaviors just because they share the same symptoms.
So before jumping to any conclusions, I advise you to visit your veterinarian to ascertain if it’s separation anxiety or incontinence. This could be a symptom of kidney disease, UTIs, diabetes, and a myriad of other illnesses.
In conclusion, with some effort and lots of patience, a Maltese can be taught to stay alone for some time. However, it should not be expected to take being alone for protracted periods very well.